September proved to be a busy month in the political world, as Senators and Representatives returned to Jefferson City the week of September 12 for the constitutionally mandated veto session and started the special session that was announced by Governor Parson in August to address agricultural tax credits and a proposed income tax cut. In addition, candidates who were successful in the August primary election are gearing up for the November 8 general election, even though there are only a handful of competitive races across the state. All candidates used the veto/special session as an opportunity to host numerous fundraisers across the Capital City to build their campaign war chests.
Wednesday, September 12 was the day legislators gaveled into veto session, where members of the General Assembly are able to attempt overrides on any bills the Governor has vetoed from the previous legislative session. It was a quick session in both chambers, as no veto overrides were attempted, even though the House and Senate did not gavel out of veto session day later in the month.
Members also gathered for a special legislative session called by Governor Mike Parson, to address agricultural tax credits and a reduction of the income tax rate in Missouri. Some legislators urged Parson to expand his call of special session to deal with recreational marijuana and sports betting, but the Governor’s spokesperson said that was not likely to happen.
As of the writing of this report, both chambers passed identical agricultural tax credit bills. There were some changes to the bill from what the Governor had requested; however, the Governor was on board and that bill appears to be on track to pass. However, as of the writing of this report, there did not appear to be an agreement in place between, Senate, and Governor’s office on the amount of the income tax cut. The Senate passed a version of the tax cut that did not cut income taxes as much as Parson had requested and included future cuts that would be triggered by certain increases in revenues.
At the close of the fiscal year on June 30, the state had a general revenue balance of $4.9 billion. Individual tax collections rose by 11.8%, while sales taxes rose 13.1%. Some of the excess revenue can be contributed to the influx of federal coronavirus relief funds and extra federal money from the recent Medicaid expansion. However, several budget forecasters warn that once the coronavirus funds are expended, the state will need to dip into the budget surplus for capital improvement projects and programs, meaning the permanent tax cut sought by Parson could be detrimental in years to come.
In other news, Representative Bruce DeGroot (R-Chesterfield), withdrew his name from the November ballot. DeGroot has represented House District 110 for the last six years and would have been entering his final term. He will not be leaving the Capitol however, as DeGroot will join Senator-elect Curtis Trent as his chief of staff. DeGroot’s departure from the election meant the Republican Central Committee in the area was left with the task of selecting a nominee to take his place on the ballot. At their recent meeting, the committee selected Justin Sparks, who currently works as a police sergeant for the St. Louis County Police Department. Sparks will face Democrat Josh Thackston of Wildwood in the November election.
Looking ahead, lawmakers will return to the campaign trail once the special legislative session wraps up. After the November elections, Republican Senators will gather for their caucus meetings in mid-November, where leadership positions will be decided. That will be followed by pre-filing of legislation on December 1 for the upcoming legislative session.
We will continue to keep you updated on political events in Jefferson City and around the state as they happen.